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Eagles dominate App
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   It’d been way too long since Georgia Southern had topped Appalachian State, and Eagle coach Jeff Price made sure his players were aware of it.
    It started with messages posted throughout the team’s locker room, and Price hammered it home with constant verbal reminders. Heading into Saturday, the Eagles had lost four straight to the Mountaineers, and GSU vividly remembered the last time it met Appalachian — an embarrassing 22-point home loss last February.
    So, needless to say, Georgia Southern was in the market for a little payback.
    The Eagles did just that, using a dominating first half and a balanced offensive attack to clobber the Mountaineers 85-72 in a Southern Conference matchup in front of 2,570 fans at Hanner Fieldhouse. And it wasn’t that close.
    Georgia Southern commanded respect with a 22-5 first-half run and scored nine unanswered points to go up 30-17 on Willie Powers’ jumper 7:45 before the break. At that point Appalachian coach Houston Fancher had seen enough, calling for a timeout in hopes of slowing the onslaught.
    “That was pretty much the key to the game — getting a fast start,” senior Louis Graham said after GSU’s first win over ASU since January 2005. “You’ve got to get them down early because they are a good team. If you let them play with you throughout the game, you’ll have trouble with them. It got them down a little bit, and it was hard for them to recover.”
    Graham was one of five Eagles to finish in double figures, turning in a game-high 21 points and barely missing a double-double with nine boards. Dwayne Foreman (16 points, four assists), Matt Fields (11 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Anthony Marshall (11 pts) and Powers (10 pts) led the Georgia Southern offense, which nailed 57.1 percent of its shots from the field.
    “For the most part I thought we were pretty balanced inside and out,” Price said. “We pushed the ball really well, and we defended well. The best thing about our team right now is we’ve got different people stepping up, and that’s a good sign. I thought Matt Fields and Anthony Marshall were the difference in the game today. As well as Louis and some other people, I thought those two made a huge difference in the basketball game.”
    The Eagles (6-1, 2-0) have now won six straight and are off to their best start since going 7-1 at the beginning of the 1991-92 season. Appalachian fell to 3-5 overall and 0-2 in SoCon play.
    “It seems like we just keep getting better and better every week,” said Fields, who scored six of GSU’s first eight points. “It didn’t seem like anybody missed. We might have missed one or two shots in a row, but not three or four. We kept it going.”
    The Eagles were nearly flawless in the first half, shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3-point land while using their defense to suffocate the Mountaineers, who shot 33.3 percent in the first 20 minutes and 40.3 for the game.
    Georgia Southern continued its first-half fury after the break, opening the second period with eight unanswered points including a Graham dunk and consecutive 3s from Foreman and Powers. With 8:32 left in the game, the Eagles went up 23 points after a Julian Allen jumper.
    With another strong outing, the Eagles continue to send the message that although much of the preseason SoCon hype has centered on Davidson, it’s not likely to be a one-man race.
    “Right now we are flying under the radar, and I want to keep it that way,” Graham said. “It was a team effort tonight, and if we do that every night we are going to be pretty hard to beat.”
    The Eagles are off next week for final exams and resume play Monday, Dec. 10 with a non-conference home game against Fort Valley State.